10 Myths About Spawning Bass All Fishermen Get Wrong

Spring Bass Fishing
Spawning bass are often misunderstood by anglers, and tales about the bass spawn are told as facts. We debunk common bass spawn myths and help you improve your bass fishing during the spawn in this video.

Keri: Come on, you. Come on, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty. Come on, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty. That time I got you. That time we got you. Easy does it there, big guy. Easy does it, big guy. Stop it. It fell out right when I picked it up.

Glenn: Nice.

Keri: Finally. Look at what we got. Hit the button. Look at what we got. There you go. All righty, fishy. He did wanna come play. There he goes.

Glenn: Hey folks, Glenn May here with BassResource.com. And today, I wanna talk about the top 10 myths and misconceptions about spawning bass. There's a lot of stories that go around. And so I wanna help clear up some of those and help you become more successful as a result.

So the first one I wanna talk about is that bass are really easy to catch during the spawn. You know, it's funny, I hear this a lot. And when I ask the guy who mentioned that like, "What's the secret then to catching them so much? And what makes it so easy?" And almost always the response is, "Well, I don't fish for spawning bass because that's unethical, you know, that's just like shooting chicken in a barrel. And I don't think that's right to do during the spawn."

So the reality is, is that they actually don't fish for bedding bass, so, usually. Typically, people who say it's really easy to fish just haven't tried fishing for spawning bass. Now, ethics aside, and let me just hit that real quick. I do fish for bedding bass, but it's only for sport. When I do catch them, I release them immediately. I don't keep them at all. And I encourage you to do that. Let them finish doing their thing if you're gonna catch them off a bed. So enough about that.

But catching them off beds requires a lot of patience, a lot of experience, and powers of observation to be able to be successful. It's not that easy. Spawning bass, what I've discovered with these is that it's kinda like...if you've had pets, you've either had cats, or dogs, horses, what have you, and even if you had the same breed, say for example, a golden retriever or Labrador, one after another, each of them have their own personality quirks, their likes and dislikes. Cats, some love to chase that laser dot on the wall. Others don't care for it at all, right? Horses, they like one kinda food, not the other. I had one horse that loved plums. I don't know why, other horses wouldn't touch them, but he loved plums. They're all different.

And the point is, is that if animals have their different quirks and personalities, there's no sense in thinking that why can't creatures underwater be the same way? And I've learned this with bass that are on beds. What may trigger a bite from one bass on a bed, the other won't care for. It may scare them off. The exact same presentation. So you have to learn for each bed that you're on that nuance, that little thing that's gonna trigger that bass to bite. It's a matter of inches of where you place that bait, but it's also what your presentation is and what's gonna get them to bite. Some fish want something that's barely moving, something that looks vulnerable, other fish, you need to whack them upside the head with it and threaten them with that lure for them to strike it. So it's not an easy thing. Fishing for spawning bass is not easy.

All right. The next misconception I wanna talk about is if you catch the male off the bed, then the female is gonna be a lot easier to catch. Yeah, that's not the case. So the female is there because the male is there. She's there to spawn. There's no other reason she's going to be hanging around in that area if there isn't a bed and a male there to attract her. If you remove him, then there's no reason for her to hang around any longer.

I see where this misconception comes from because males are more aggressive. And if you're trying to catch a female and the male goes in and keeps hitting the lure, you know, it's hard to catch her. So it stands the reason if you get him out of the way, then it would be easier to catch her. But the problem is, once you catch him, she's not gonna hang out for very long at all. She's gonna move on. Something is wrong. He's not there. And her little spidey senses are gonna go up and she's gonna vacate that area quickly. So unless you can catch her immediately after getting the male, you don't have a chance of catching her. So that is definitely not true.

The next misconception is that in order to catch a bass off the bed, you've gotta be right up on them, and see the bed, and see what's going on. Well, I can see when you first starting out learning how to bed fish that it's helpful to be able to see how the bass reacts to your lure. So it may take some time practicing that, and learning some of the nuances, and some of the tricks of the trade, and how to get them to bite. But your chances are much better of catching that fish, the further away from that bed you are. They're on guard. They're on that bed for a reason. And they're guarding it. They're protective of that area, that territory. So they're already on alert and you bring a big boat right up on them, that gives them even more reason to be defensive and less reason for them to bite. So the further away from the bed you are that you can still kinda see it and you can still kinda see where the bass moving around on it, the better your chances are of catching them.

Weeds. Nope, that was a fish. That absolutely was a fish. He's right there. He's guarding bass. Coming up to your lure. There, he got it. There you go.

Keri: Damn, he's an aggressive little thing. Dang. Got you, you little guy. Come hither. Come hither. I'll put you back so you can continue guarding. There we go, gosh. Thank you, little guy. Now, go guard. Go guard away.

Glenn: All right. Here's another misconception that I...I like this one. And that is if you're fishing a tournament during the spawn, then in order for you to win, then you need to be able to be really good at bed fishing because you gotta catch a lot of fish off beds. Not the case. I actually like fishing tournaments during the spawn because I know that's gonna take care of, you know, a half of the field or so because they're all gonna be fishing for bedding bass. The fish that are on beds are males. They've been working for quite a while, building nests, chasing down females, certainly not biting. And if they're protecting the nest, that's even longer since they've had a meal. They've burnt up a lotta energy. And they're not that big as a result. The big ones are the females, especially the ones that haven't spawned yet. So depending on the time of year, if the spawn is just beginning, I'm gonna go be fishing pre-fish spawn...pre-spawn fish, sorry, pre-fishing. Pre-spawn fish, those are gonna be the bigger ones, they fed up for the winter, they've got full eggs. These ones are getting ready to spawn, but they haven't yet, so they're big and heavy. I'm gonna be fishing for those. If it's late in the spawn, then there's a number of fish that have already spawned. And now, they're recovering and they're feeding. They're more apt to bite. And they're getting heavy too. So I'm gonna go fish those post-spawn fish.

The other reality is, is if you're not very good at bed fishing...I shouldn't even say not very good. I know some guys that are really good at bed fishing, but they'll spend a half an hour, an hour, or longer trying to get a fish to bite. And sometimes, those fish just aren't gonna bite. It takes a lot of experience to know when a fish is gonna bite and not bite on a bed. I used to sit on a bed for an hour and a half or two hours sometimes. Now, I know within the first few cast whether or not a bass is gonna bite. But a lotta guys waste a lot of time working a fish that just isn't gonna bite. And it just can't do that in a tournament and expect to win. So I just leave the beds alone during the tournament and focus on those pre-spawn or post-spawn fish.

All right. Another misconception about fishing spawning bass is that the best way to catch them is to get up on a spawning flat and just fan cast that area with fast-moving baits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, buzz baits, that kind of thing. You know, as with every fallacy, there's a little bit of truth to it. And the fact of the matter is if you're fishing, especially smallmouth beds, and, you know, you can get your lure to go right over the top of that bed when they're guarding it, then some smallmouth will rise up and smack that lure to chase it off. But the reality is you've gotta get that bait right over the bed. Typically, you don't. And especially with largemouth, what will happen is if anything, they'll rise up and follow it just to make sure it's not a predator or something they need to be concerned about, but they won't strike it. So the worst case scenario, what you've done is you've alerted them to your presence. You know, they're on guard. They're protecting beds. And so now, you're bringing something unnatural over them. Well, now their guards up. And now, they're less likely to bite. So you've basically ruined your chances of being successful.

So no, fan casting an area, like I said, every once in a while, you might be able to catch some buck males off a bed doing that, but it's not the best way to fish a spawning flat.

There we go. Ok, it's a little bit stronger first than I anticipated. He's not that big, but.

Keri: Fought like a good one.

Glenn: Yeah. That'll work.

Keri: We call them little fishypoo.

Glenn: Yeah, all righty.

Keri: Look at the little fishy. Oh, look at it go. Run away.

Glenn: All right. Here's a fun one that I hear about a lot. And that is bass only spawn between 58 and 62, 63-degree water temperatures. Right in that zone, that's when the bass spawn. No, that's not true.

See, the spawn last actually several months. The first wave, if you will, is when the water temperatures, sometimes haven't even reached 55 degrees yet. The low 50s to mid-50s, there's a group of bass, usually larger bass, and they'll spawn in deeper water. Usually 10 feet deep, somewhere in that, 8 to 10 feet deep, maybe on top of some old stumps or something like that. The deepest I've found them was in 19 feet of water, clear, clear water. So the clearer the water, the deeper they're gonna be, but it was in gin-clear water, you know, 19 feet deep. That was a big smally. And unfortunately, I couldn't get him to bite. But, boy, he was big and the female was even bigger. But colder water, it's not unusual to see some fish spawning when the temperatures in the mid-50s.

The next wave, if you will, is...the next full moon is usually when you get the big larger population. That's when the water temperatures in the upper 50s, low 60s. That's when you see a lotta fish spawning. But it's not the only time because then, there's another wave, the next full moon, and that's when the water temperatures are in the upper 60s, low 70s. And there'll be another set of bass that's spawn during then. Keep in mind, the bass don't always spawn on a full moon. There's some, they're spawning in a new moons and in between. So there's always bass that are spawning throughout this entire period.

So it's Mother Nature's way of protecting the species. You don't have just one spawn that happens at once. It happens multiple times throughout a two, three-month period in different conditions to ensure that those species survive. To get some that actually hatch and make it through the next year.

But this gets me to another myth that I see a lot. And that is bass only spawn once. No, that's not true. I talked about these different waves. Some of these bass will spawn two times during these waves, especially female. During any given spawn, the female will deposit her eggs on multiple nests, first of all. So that kinda debunks that myth right now. She's spawned multiple times across multiple beds. But oftentimes, they'll spawn a little bit, say, in that first wave, and then a month later, she'll lay eggs again on some other beds. And then another couple weeks later, she'll lay more eggs. So she spawned multiple times. And some males will do the same thing too. They'll do it maybe twice during this time. So no, they don't spawn once.

The other thing that's real important to keep in mind is once a female lays her eggs, she immediately starts producing more eggs, new eggs, for the next season already. So she's already producing right away. There's no lag time.

Often, what I see is in the fall. There are some bass that actually spawn in the fall. This is pretty common, to be honest with you, because every year in our forums, we see people...they start in our forums and they show pictures of bass that have red tails. And they're like, "Were they spawning? This is really weird, it's fall. But why would they be spawning?"

Yes, they do. Bass can and do spawn in the fall. It doesn't happen a lot. But it happens enough that it's fairly common. I've seen them spawn as early as September and as late as Thanksgiving. I've caught fish off beds during Thanksgiving weekend. So they do do that sometimes. Again, nature's way of protecting the species so they can and do spawn more than once during the year.

Another misconception that I hear a lot about is man, I love it when it's spawn because that's the best time of year to catch a big bass. No, not really. That may be a good time of year to see a big bass, but not necessarily catch him. Because during the spawn, that's when you see a lotta big females up cruising the shallows looking to spawn. And you may think, cool they're catchable. But really, they got one thing on their mind and one thing only. And that's to lay their eggs and get out of there. So they're not there to feed. They're not up there hunting. So they're kinda finicky and they're hard to catch. Not that they can't be caught, but they're difficult to catch. And because they are spawning, they're laying their eggs on different beds, they're losing weight, and they're not feeding, so they're not at the biggest that they would be during other times of the year.

Arguably, the best time to catch a trophy bass is in pre-spawn. This is when they fed up, they're big, they're getting ready to spawn, they're at the biggest they're gonna be. So in those earlier months in the cooler water temperatures, late winter, early spring, that is really the best time to catch a big bass.

Oh, wow. All right, there's a fish there and he got my bait.

Keri: I'll throw in there and see if I can find it him. Did he take your bait?

Glenn: Yup, he took the tail. He was more by that log. He hammered it. I thought he had it. I didn't give enough time to take it. There you go. See if he got my bait in his mouth.

Keri: The hell?

Glenn: He wrapped on something?

Keri: I think he's wrapped on something. I can see him, but I can't get him. Oh, wait. What the hell? Yeah, he's wrapped on something.

Glenn: A stick. Keep bringing him up. He's up on a stick. Put the pressure on him.

Keri: I got it. That just looks funny. He's right under the lip of the boat. See him?

Glenn: Oh boy, I don't know if I can get that.

Keri: There he goes. Oh, ya there he goes.

Glenn: Geez. I just touched the line. That's all I did.

Keri: That's all it took.

Glenn: I didn't even grab anything else, and he got me soaking wet.

Keri: Come here.

Glenn: Oh, he's guarding fry. Holy crap, look at all these fry here. That's his deal.

Keri: You're just a little guy. You weigh nothing and your guarding. Here you go, little guy. He's gonna swim right back to 'em. There he is.

Glenn: Another misconception that I hear sometimes is you gotta change baits a lot, you gotta change colors a lot to finally figure out what's gonna trigger that bite, and get that bedding bass to bite. No, that's not true.

Bedding bass, if they're gonna bite, that's the key, if they're gonna bite, it's gonna be about your presentation and location. It's really that critical. And it's a game of inches, where you put that bait and how you present it to the bass. Sometimes, you've gotta cast way past that bed and let that bass forget about it. So just let it sit. And then every once in a while, give it a little movement and get it towards that bed, until finally, it looks like something natural making its way towards the bed. Sometimes, that's the way to do it.

And other times, you can maybe take a...I've caught bass doing this, throwing a crankbait, a floating crankbait, cast it out upwind and let the crankbait float over the top of the bed, and then give it a quick twitch. Other times, you have to let the bait move across the bed and sit on the bed, and give it a little pop. Other times, you have to hit the bass with the bait.

You know, it goes on and on all these different techniques, different ways to get them to trigger. But you may use a different bait to get some of these different presentations. But it's not because you changed baits is why the bass bit, it's because you change presentations because of the bait. Never have I ever seen color have anything to do with whether the bass bit or not. Color is just not a factor. Basically, if the bass thinks this is something that's real, it needs to be attacked or defended it against, that sort of thing.

That's why I use bright colored baits. The brighter the color bait, the easier it is for you to see it. And you can see what's going on, especially if you backed off and you're away from that bed, and you can barely see the bed, and barely see the bass, but you can see that bright lure, that helps you tell whether or not the bass is hitting it or not. So don't worry about color. Pay more attention to your presentation and your location. And that is critical to your success.

All right. Here's another one that I see happen a lot. During the spawn is guys will say, "Hey, I saw a lotta empty beds today. The spawn is over. We've missed it." Not really.

Now, there's some semblance to truth to this. If you see a lot of beds that are silted over that aren't clean, then those probably aren't being kept up. And those have been abandoned and likely the spawn is over. But if you see a lotta clean beds that just don't have a bass on it at the time, that doesn't mean the spawn is over.

A lot of times, the males will build a nest in stages. They'll build it a little bit in the morning and leave to go feed or something, come back later and build it some more. Or maybe they'd be gone in the morning. They'll come back in the afternoon to build it. And if it's an active bass, it's bedding and spawning, those males, they gotta go off the beds to go find a female in coral her and bring her back to the nest. If you watch any videos that show how bass spawn, the male will bumper and coral her and direct her back towards his bed. So you may come up on an empty bed, but that male is nearby. He's doing his thing. He's working a female right now. So it doesn't mean the spawn is over.

The other thing too, is these bass are very skittish. They know being shallow, they're vulnerable, and they're very defensive. And if the water is clear enough for you to see the bed, it's clear enough for them to see you. And so if you're pulling up on a bed or you walk up on a dock or in a bank to where you can see the bed, they probably saw you long before you saw them. And they bolted outta there, they're gone. And they can see you from a distance and they're waiting for you to leave, so they'll come back to their bed. You're just the only reason why they're not there at the moment, it's not because the spawn is over.

So unless you see silted over, dingy, you know, basically old-looking beds that aren't up kept, chances are the spawn is not over just because you find empty beds.

All right. So those are some of the misconceptions about spawning bass. I hope that helps you out. For more tips and tricks like this, visit BassResource.com.